Wednesday, August 6, 2014

10 New Ways I Used Tech In The Classroom This Year (Part 2)

To complete my 2013-2014 reflection of the top 10 new ways I used tech last year, here are my last five ideas for the classroom. 

If you missed the first five, you can find them here. If you already slogged through the first five and are ready for more then I applaud your masochistic tendencies.

Just hang in there buddy.

5) Makey Makey and Programming

Last year we used Makey Makey with Scratch. This year I plan to have Makey Makey be a big part of my Makerspace during choice time

And since I already talked about both of those things, I'd like to take a brief tangent with this:

My first thought was, "What the hell?"
My second thought was, "Great. More little things I have to blow my money on." Because it looks pretty awesome. You can either buy a starter bundle of 6 modules at $99, or 2 modules for $59. Ridiculous. I'd love it for Christmas.

4) E-Choose-Your-Own-Adventures with Google Forms

I came up with this project partly because I wanted to use Google Drive in an interesting new way, and partly because it seemed like a project that was super high on the Bloom's Taxonomy Pyramid.

Oops. This Mr. Bloom Taxonomy's Pyramid Scheme.

Ignore that last pyramid. Here's the right one:
Mr. Bloom's Taxonomy Pyramid.

What's great about designing your own Choose Your Own Adventure based on real life scenarios, is that you have to imagine the consequences of various decisions. What's really challenging about designing your own Choose Your Own Adventures is that exact same thing. 
I haven't quite complete my blog series about this yet. I first talked about the genesis of the idea, and then showed how to build it in Google Forms, peppered with my usual Google grumbles of disappointment.
What I haven't talked about yet was what my class did next. Briefly, I gave them a list of invasive species and the effects that they've had on their new environment. Then I told them that for the next story, the character they will design will be an exotic species peddler. Each choice in the story would be between one invasive species or another. For example:

Your name is Jack Silver: Adventurer, Traveler, and a lover of all life. You love plants and animals so much, that often times you can’t help but give them away. You love to travel to new places, explore exotic plants and animals, and sometimes you bring them back home. Sometimes you give them away to friends and neighbors. And sometimes, you sell them. This helps you travel to more exciting places!
You walk into your hut, and see a letter on your bed. It’s from your sister. You open the letter and pull out a card.
The card says.
“Oh dang!” You cry out. “I completely forgot about my nephew’s birthday.” Unfortunately you are 3000 km away and won’t be able to visit him on his birthday. But you can give him a birthday gift!
You have several boxes full of interesting animals you collected on the floor.
“Hmmmmm…” you think to yourself. “What present should I give my nephew?”

A) You decide to give Rick a two lovely cane toads.  

B) You decide to give Rick a few chirpy birds called Starlings

Each path needed to have the animal transported from its native habitat to a foreign habitat. The animal then needed to escape into the foreign ecosystem, breed, and take it over.
There were no "happy" paths, only less invasive ones. 
Because that's life, kiddo. 
You chose... poorly.

Dead ends to the story occurred when the reader chose to peddle the more harmful species. Students had to determine which species was most harmful based on their research.

There's a lot more to write about this project- how I structured it, what went right, and what was challenging for the kids. But I'll save that for a later post, because it's way past time for #3.

3) Professional Development For Parents

I love being a teacher for lots of reasons. One of those reasons is that I get paid to constantly be learning. But why be a hoarder? I go through so much content, that I might as well curate the best of it and offer it to other grownups. 

That was the thought anyway when I decided to use Learnist to keep cool things I found just for adults. The content was based on topics that we were studying in class, but were specifically for grown-ups. I thought it was a cool idea that I'll try to expand this year. 

Learnist is an imperfect platform, but it's much prettier than Pinterest, and I'm all about using and promoting web tools that are designed well... as well as tearing down the web tools that look awful (Seriously, Google? I wrote that post in 2012 and Google Sites looks just as terrible today as it did then).

2) Student-created news shows with iMovie for the iPad.

Here's one I haven't written about before.

At the beginning of the year, the students and I put together a news show called "Good Morning Praha." The students created the content, but I helped them edit it. Half way through the year we got iPads, and editing had a much smaller learning curve. 

By the end of the year, some students decided they wanted to create their own news show again, this time appropriately titled, "Good Evening Praha." And this time they did everything. They thought of the content, filmed and edited it with the iPad. They were already familiar with iMovie on the laptop, and I maybe spent a total of 5 minutes showing them some of the editing features of iMovie for the IPad. The rest they figured out for themselves. 

Next year because the iPad makes this so much easier, I'd like the students to produce more of these during our choice time. 

1) Digital Stories with Tellagami, a Green Screen, and iMovie

I've made digital stories with my class before, but Tellagami gives an added layer to storytelling. This particular project was way too big for any movie editing app that lets you incorporate green screen, so I had to use iMovie on the laptop to put everything together. But my hope is that DoInk will soon be able to handle slightly more robust projects in the future. 

And... we're done.

By the way, did you see those littlebits Cloud modules? Crazy. 

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